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Winter break COVID testing and travel guidance for students

Categories: Academics, Campus, Health & safety, Travel

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stanford recommends delaying travel, especially if you are not fully vaccinated.

Regardless of vaccination status, all individuals are required to comply with campus access restrictions and testing requirements following personal or university-sponsored travel. In addition, visitors and guests coming to campus must also complete a daily Health Attestation form.

Effective November 27, 2021, travelers are required to adhere to the following:

  • Fully vaccinated, returning from domestic travel: No period of restricted activity.
  • Not fully vaccinated, returning from domestic or international travel: Restrict activities (as defined below) until receiving a negative Day 5 test result.
  • Fully vaccinated, returning from international travel: Restrict activities until receiving a negative Day 0 test result. After receiving a negative Day 0 test result but before receiving a negative Day 5 test result, resume in-person activities but refrain from indoor public dining and continue wearing face coverings indoors and in crowded spaces.

Vaccinated individuals returning from international travel may not come to shared spaces, including class, until they receive a negative COVID test result taken on Day 0 (immediately upon return). They must also take a test on Day 5.

Unvaccinated students and employees who have traveled internationally may not return to campus, except housing, until a Day 5 negative test.

Following international travel, all individuals must wear a face covering indoors and in crowded spaces outdoors, and not engage in indoor dining until receiving a negative Day 5 test result.

Until Nov. 27, 2021, all individuals returning from personal or university-sponsored international travel may not engage in unrestricted activities on campus until they submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken at least 5 days after returning to California.

Travel to Hawaii, Alaska, and U.S. territories and possessions is considered domestic travel.

As with all policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, this guidance is subject to changing health conditions.

Winter break COVID testing

COVID testing is strongly recommended weekly for all students who are living on campus or coming to campus on a regular basis, following this protocol.

Student-athletes, Hopkins Marine Station students, and some medical students will use different protocols and should follow the instructions of their respective administrative or clinical advisors.

Students who travel outside of Northern California as defined on Health Alerts are required to be tested twice upon return, within a day or two of arrival and approximately 5 days later. While awaiting both test results, students should restrict themselves to essential activities.

Winter break travel guidance

The uncertainties of the pandemic could disrupt travel plans. Consider purchasing plane tickets that are changeable. Keep in mind your return could be delayed.

Get a COVID test several days before departure to guard against taking the virus with you. If you test positive and are unable to travel, the university will provide isolation dining and housing at no additional cost, as long as the student is in isolation.

Graduate students who share an apartment should discuss travel plans with each other. If you or your apartment mate feel uncomfortable sharing your living space after either of you have traveled, the Graduate Life Office can work with you to see if temporary alternate housing is available while you are tested. Please be aware that such spaces cannot be guaranteed, though the university will do its best to provide temporary housing for students who need to travel due to family obligations or an emergency situation. 

Winter break travel guidance for international students

The Bechtel International Center will be closed beginning December 14, 2020, and will re-open for online services on January 4, 2021. An emergency email will be activated for the winter break period. 

We would like to remind all international students of the following:

International travel is not recommended. During the winter break 2020, international travel is not recommended for those under Stanford visa sponsorship. This recommendation is based on:

  1. Uncertainty of border closures/travel restrictions during the COVID-19 emergency. 
  2. Uncertainty as to the availability of consular services abroad as many embassies may be closed or offer only limited services for those seeking visa renewals. Even scheduled appointments may be cancelled with little notice.
  3. Uncertainty around the ability to re-enter the United States for those students who want to remain eligible for employment benefits such as Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.

If international travel is unavoidable. If you do decide to travel internationally, please remember the following:

  1. Check the travel signature on your latest I-20/DS-2019. If the signature will be no more than one year old at the time of re-entry to the United States, it is still valid (only 6 months for those on OPT/STEM OPT). If the travel signature has – or will – expire before your planned re-entry date, please complete this form to request a new I-20/DS-2019. Processing a request for a reprint may be delayed if the request is received after November 20.
  2. Stanford has very limited capacity to assist in the event of a visa appointment delay or issues around re-entry. If you do make the decision to travel internationally, against Bechtel’s recommendation not to travel, please accept responsibility for potential outcomes as Stanford may not be able to assist.
  3. J-1 students traveling from the Schengen Zone/the United Kingdom/Ireland may need to re-apply for an National Interest Exemption before re-entering the United States.

For more information, please visit: 

Bechtel’s Travel FAQ

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel webpage